New regional economic development minister Shane Jones doesn't have to look far to see a need in New Zealand's regions.
A $1 billion-a-year fund is a centrepiece of the Labour and New Zealand First coalition agreement.
Jones will be sworn in today as Regional Economic Development Minister, Infrastructure Minister and Forestry Minister. Many details were yet to be determined, including what areas would be eligible.
But already draft supplications will be underway in all corners of the country.
Working roughly from the northern tip and heading south, some common threads emerge of highways needing upgrades, inadequate water supplies, forests needing to be processed and investments needed in employment and tourism.
Far North mayor John Carter cited a list beginning with a four lane highway from Northland to Auckland, a digital network, fix phone black spots, infrastructure such as small town water supplies, tourism infrastructure, clean water, roads, improvement fund, sealing, dust mitigation, forestry in north Hokianga, an industrial park for Kaikohe and the Manea project, retracing the steps of Kupe in Opononi.
"And so the list goes on," Carter said. And it does.
Northern Advocate editor Craig Cooper cites a need to increase port traffic for NorthPort, a rail link to the port, highway four-laned from Whangarei to Auckland, upgrade of bridges, investment in tourism and raw wood processing plants.
Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie said her district would welcome an upgrade to marine facilities (estimated cost of up to $10m) and a robust, safe, resilient state highway network.
Hamilton News editor Peter Tiffany said the obvious wishes for the region would be extending commuter rail from Auckland to Hamilton and extending the Waikato Expressway to the Kaimai Ranges. "Probably also the plan for a new Waikato Medical School - if it remains in play."
Head of news at the Bay of Plenty Times Sonya Bateson said the region would appreciate an Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga passenger rail, Turret Rd widened, infrastructure -- especially for housing in growth areas -- and a stadium.
Taupo & Turangi Weekender editor Laurilee McMichael checked with the mayor to compile a list including a Taupo Airport terminal upgrade, road upgrades for SH1 from Taupo to Turangi and Poihipi Rd, the main road west from Taupo, studies to investigate the feasibility of processing logs, new industries using the district's geothermal resources and reticulated water and wastewater for lakeshore settlements.
Wanganui Chronicle deputy editor Simon Waters suggested North and South moles repaired (a $3m+ price tag), port redevelopment, a velodrome roof ($6m+), rating relief, restored funding for roading and Government jobs, e.g. conservation.
Horowhenua Chronicle chief reporter Tanya Wood said one wish would be reopening the Manawatu River Loop at Foxton - once New Zealand's largest port.
Other needs included stormwater infrastructure at Foxton and the beach; diverting Levin's stormwater away from Lake Horowhenua, cleaning up the Manawatu River, more and better quality health care, GP and mental health resources, affordable housing ie $150,000-$200,000 and job creation.
Kapiti News editor David Haxton said the area could do with community hospital in Paraparaumu, a Kapiti Island biosecurity hub/information centre at Paraparaumu Beach, and an Otaki to Levin Expressway.
Jones' billion dollar budget could be in overdraft before crossing Cook Strait, a fact he will be already well aware of.
"It is not an inordinate amount of dough when one thinks of the infrastructure deficit and the plethora of projects that are braying for attention," he told the NZ Herald on Thursday.